Easter egg: invisible messages from the developers

Most famous artists did not consider it shameful to leave in his works hidden messages for posterity. And, I must say, they have shown remarkable ingenuity, sometimes creating not just a masterpiece but a rebus. To this day we solve riddles left by the two hundred, three hundred or more years ago.

Why it was necessary for artists to leave behind the secrets and charades, we can only guess. Maybe in life it was a way to prove his authorship, and for some hidden messages could serve as a guide to action.

For example, the famous fresco of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” on the wall of the Sistine chapel in Rome are strikingly resembles in outline the structure of the human brain. It has already drawn attention of scientists engaged in the problems of medicine.

Of course, this assumption has a lot of opponents who think it’s a coincidence. However, the fact that different people independently from each other, from time to time make a “sensational discovery”, makes you wonder. For example, here’s a fun fact — the New York Times reported about a similar medical discovery first in 1990 and then twenty years later, in 2010, when the coincidence once again drew the attention of another neurosurgeon.

In a time when Michelangelo lived, the dissection of corpses was not welcomed by the Church, and if the great painter has studied human anatomy in a similar way, he had to hide the knowledge. Therefore, the assumption that he has encrypted some information in his works, it seems quite possible.

Since the Renaissance centuries passed, and people still leave behind hidden messages. And make them not only those associated with fine art. The usual “techies” are also not alien to the desire to leave your mark in history by marking in some way your creation.

Who invented the Easter egg

Hidden surprises-messages or undocumented features of the software are usually called “Easter eggs”. To see them, you need to perform some not very complicated secret action. For example, go to any menu program and press a certain key combination, place the cursor at the desired place of application window, etc.

The term “Easter egg” is not folklore, it was invented by Department Manager computer games company Atari after the popular game Adventure revealed the secret screen with the message left by one of its developers — Created by Warren Robinett. It is considered the first known hidden messages in computer applications.

Warren Robinette (Warren Robinett) worked in the late seventies the Atari programmer. Atari’s management was fundamentally concealed the names of their officers, never pointing them in the games. Therefore, once Warren decided to prove his authorship, adding to the game Adventure, on which he worked in 1979, a secret screen with the phrase Created by Warren Robinett.

In Atari found out about the making of Warren’s only when the game is already out and has become widely known is the finding reported by one of the players. Robinette at that time no longer worked for Atari, so to punish him they could not. Everything that could make the company is to change the cartridge with the game on the new, but it was not cheap. And then Department Manager computer games, liked the idea, and the game was left with a secret screen. Moreover, the “Easter eggs” began to add in new games already on purpose. The term arose by analogy with the well-known in Europe and the USA game when the kids are looking for Easter eggs hidden everywhere and get prizes for it.

Silicon zoo Mike Davidson

Sometimes in order to see the stash, you need to look very, very closely, armed with the microscope. Among those who versed in the “Easter eggs”, there are real archaeologists, such as Mike Davidson (Michael Davidson). However, he became a seeker of secret messages accidentally.

In the mid-nineties Mike Davidson worked as a senior engineer at the National laboratory of strong magnetic fields Florida state University in Tallahassee. Once he did an unusual thing — took pictures of the chip in an enlarged form for the annual calendar. To photograph a 64-bit processor MIPS R4000 with an optical microscope Nikon FX/L, Mike first made a close-up of the chip using relatively small increase in the range of 25 to 100x. Then he had to take a picture with a detailed schematic for the chip leader to show him the “stuffing” is a popular design technique. To do this, Davidson highlighted the chip tungsten-halogen lamp and magnified the image up to 600h. When he looked in the microscope, the surprise was not the limit — looked at him a face like this.

This man — a funny character Wally, the hero of books by the British artist Martin Handford. In the United States and Canada, this man know how Waldo (Waldo).

What is it — some part of the scheme or a humor engineer? Intrigued, Mike began to conduct its own investigation. He posted the picture on his website with galleries of pictures obtained with the microscope, and then contacted with a designer from California who designed the MIPS R4000 processor. Kevin kun (Kevin Kuhn) from MIPS Technologies Inc. admitted that in fact this figure is made by another employee of the company. As expected, this image is not part of the concept. It turned out that these images are the developers from time to time left on silicon chips in order to diversify the monotonous design process. Kevin kun also said that Waldo was kind of a signature of the designer, certifying the authenticity of the authorship, and was advised to look for with a microscope and other drawings.

Encouraged by this information, Mike Davidson has become hard to find “chip-art” on silicon chips. The result was not long in coming. Some drawings were very well recognized, over the content of others had to wrestle with.

For example, on a processor MIPS R10000 Davidson found the image of Godzilla, a mythical creature first appearing in Japanese movies in 1954. When Mike put this picture in his “zoo”, many visitors began to say that it looks like a character in the movie “how the Grinch stole Christmas”. However, Kevin Kuhn dispelled the doubt — after all, it’s the monster Godzilla. As a joke Mike, even calculated that the monster with the silicon substrate a billion times smaller than its prototype.

On the same chip is another amazing artifact — the announcement of the marriage between Ellen and Yeuk-Hai, which took place on 25 may 1996. The person who entered into a valid marriage and whose image is immortalized on this microprocessor was an engineer who led the process of creating masks for the Silicon Graphics MIPS R10000. This is probably the smallest announcement about marriage in the world, its size of only 100 microns.

The image was made by real photos that Mike later managed to get.

Most surprising was the fact that this “silicon art” was not only the chips produced by MIPS Technologies. In the late eighties and early nineties the vast majority of HP workstations and IBM used bipolar IC from Texas Instruments. And probably none of the users of these PCs are not suspected in the system unit there is a picture of the starship. If you look under strong magnification, for this chip, you can see a picture of the legendary starship enterprise (USS Enterprise NCC-1701) from the cult series “Star trek” (Star Trek).

Mike made discovery after discovery. On the chip Philips V7191 (multi-standard video decoder) of the sample in about 1990, was found the image of the whole castle. This is probably supposed to mean that the author of the picture were German or had some relation to Germany.

This symbol is very similar to the castle that can be seen on the arms of the city of Hamburg.

This assumption is confirmed by the fact that this chip was used to create the first “square-pixel” decoder, which was produced at the request of Apple Computer at the factory of Philips in Hamburg.

On the same chip discovered the picture with the owl and the owlet.

Painted on the chips beings was a “Silicon zoo”, which Mike regularly replenishes.

But where begins the “silicon art” which figure has the right to be called the first sketch and that was it depicted? Unfortunately, the answer to this question, Mike not found. One of the oldest drawings of his large collection was found on a very old chip by Texas Instruments in 1970, which depicted a sailboat. The average size of the transistors on this chip is about 10-15 microns, and the chip size of a pinhead.

There is also a suspicion that the first picture was taken a year before the chip with a sailboat in 1969. The fact that one of the chips, the exact time of release which could not be identified, Davidson found the outline of the lunar module spacecraft “Apollo”. And that no one had any doubt that it was drawn, an unknown artist made signed: LEM (Lunar Excursion Module).

Sometimes messages on the chips were left on purpose, with full confidence that they will see. For example, in 1977, the new chip was the inscription “CVAX… When you sabatia quite a steal to the real the best.” This phrase is intended for the engineers of the USSR, who worked for the military industry and actively copied Western designs. But this phrase is almost meaningless because its author was well versed in Russian is much worse than in the design of integrated circuits.

In fact, he wanted to make a joke and write a slogan, parodying the largest manufacturer of greeting cards, the US company Hallmark Cards. He says: When you care enough to send the very best (“When you care to send the very best”). Probably, the inscription had to be “CVAX — you care to steal the best.” Whether a compliment or a reproach.

Tablets, which carry eggs

Most modern tablets are running Android system, each version which contains a lot of interesting hidden greetings from OS developers.

By the way, e-filling of tablets — all those tiny chips, which engineers still leave their messages. For example, if you open the Samsung Galaxy and look at the wiring of one of the chips under a microscope, you can see the whole collection of pictures: newly hatched duckling, little dragon, Grisu, the drummer and a few dozen other pictures.

Under the six layers of aluminium and diagrams of silica, almost at the level of the polysilicon plate underlying the entire chip, the engineers left a tiny message from the letters in the two micrometer: “If you see this text, it means you are very close.”

Secrets there are in the Android operating system. Open system settings, go to “About phone” or “About tablet” and repeatedly click on Android version number. Depending on the edition of the OS, you will be able to see the different unusual things. For example, in Android Jelly Bean on the screen will be a huge smiling jelly candy.

Change the orientation of the device screen, and the candy will turn a blind eye. If you touch it a little and hold your finger on the screen will appear colored candies, which fly at a touch.

Mars Easter egg

When the third-generation Mars Rover Curiosity began its mission on the red planet, NASA discovered a little secret. It turns out that the trace of the tread with the wheels of the Rover has a special figure. The engineers of the space Agency admitted that the design of the wheels of the Mars Rover was invented by them so that in the process of movement on the Martian soil, it remained the traces in the form of a specific sequence of long and short dashes: “.— .– .-“. If this sequence to decipher using Morse code, the message becomes clear the Martians. J, P, and L is the first letter of the name jet propulsion Laboratory, a research division of NASA, which is engaged in the development of Curiosity.

The years go by, and a clear answer to the question “is There life on Mars?” we still have not heard. However, in a sense, Martians on the red planet. The little Martians hidden aboard the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity. They are Gladiator helmets, and they even have names — Tom Elliot (Tom Elliot), and mark Bedsworth (Mark Madsworth). These names are the Martians had borrowed from employees of the jet propulsion Laboratory. These pictures hidden on the surface of the sensor images for Spirit and Opportunity. In the process of preparing missions to the Red planet, Tom and mark always made fun of each other, and that was the story for the pictures, “the duel of the two Martians.”

It is not known how many caches are hidden in the design of the Curiosity, but we do know that in addition to “wheel and Morse code” the Rover has taken on Mars… money. It may seem very odd to the robotic mechanism cash on the red planet? It turns out that it’s very simple. The designers decided that the usual dime — a good target for calibration of external camera Curiosity. Besides, it’s not a simple coin, but a kind of talisman — the first dime, issued in 1909 by the mint for the centenary of the Board of the Lincoln. On one side of the coin depicts a President, the other engraved with the VDB. It’s the initials of the coin designer Victor David Brenner.

Apples stuffed with eggs

Apple products are always characterized by simple, stylish design that, at first glance, does not have to look inside the computer “Easter eggs”. However, in these devices is full of interesting secrets.

In the Macintosh SE, one of the first computers manufactured by the company Steve jobs was a hidden “secret” information — photos of team this model. Since the resolution of the images was quite low, I had to make four images with different persons. All these images were recorded in a ROM chip. Recently a team of hackers NYResistor from Brooklyn picked up at the dump this computer. The procedure of extracting these images is described in detail in the blog.

These pictures have a date of November 20, 1986, so do not look at them the father-founder of Apple Steve jobs, during this period he was simply dismissed from the company. In addition to these images, the chip on the motherboard were hidden as usual and a few images, one of which is very symbolic.

According to the story, which was told by Andy Herzfeld (Andy Hertzfeld), one of the team members Apple, these images served as a kind of protection against unauthorized cloning of computer. In the early eighties, seriously Apple sued Franklin Computers company that made an exact copy of the Apple II and sold it as a Franklin Ace at a lower price. The litigation was difficult, and even Apple in the court of first instance was defeated. And although in the end the victory was for “Apple”, the company’s management was seriously concerned about the possibility of recurrence of similar problems in the future. In particular, the leadership feared for the Apple computer next generation Mac.

And then Steve jobs tasked the developers to add a few “Easter eggs” that during court proceedings he could effectively press a key combination and get on the full screen icon with Apple logo. Icon with prison bars painted Susan Keir (Susan Kare), she came up with the inscription Stolen!!@Apple.

The developers were so excited about this prudently protect that some of them even wanted any pirate caught in this trap. But alas! No one wanted to put on stream the clones of Macintosh computers, the defense was unclaimed.

Since then, Easter eggs have become common for Apple products. Sometimes they look very impressive. For example, a light spot under the mouse Mighty Mouse at a certain distance from the source draws on the surface contour of the mouse.

But when the first iPod, was that it hid the ancient game of Breakout, which was developed by one of the founders of Apple — Steve Wozniak (Steve Wozniak). If you have this preserved, you can check out, select in the main menu About and hold for a few seconds key in the center.

Hewlett-Packard: the singing scanners

Here’s who never missed an opportunity to crack a joke, so are the engineers of Hewlett-Packard company. Probably all flatbed scanners are “Easter eggs”. The most common surprise, which can be detected in those devices hidden melody that the scanner can reproduce, if its right “to ask.” For each model you need to do your trick — one key to keep, the other to change the operation mode, etc. as a result, the scanners begin to literally sing!

PCB laser printer HP LaserJet 1100 the developers left a message saying that the launch of this model they dedicate to the memory of his friend.

Manufactured Hewlett-Packard oscilloscopes you can play Tetris — obviously, this feature was added so that engineers could from time to time to relax in the workplace.

Another Easter egg has been found on MFP HP C309a quite by accident. The device refused the Wi-Fi module, and in trying to recover this feature, the owners started to click on everything. As a result, they found a hidden code to run ping pong on the LCD screen of the device.

Kickstarter: seven times measure, cut once

Just a few years, a Kickstarter project that implements the idea of voluntary donations has become extremely popular. Like most sites with a large attendance, Kickstarter has its own “Easter egg”. Go to the main project page and scroll it to the end. At the very bottom you will see a banner with the persons next to which will mean a tiny picture of scissors. Click on them and scissors will travel along the dotted line. Don’t be lazy, run the scissors to the edge of the screen. In the end you will find a surprise in the form of a message from the developers Kickstarter: “Eureka! You’ve found our little secret. Subscribe to our newsletter happy about all the internal events from the field of art and culture in the Kickstarter Universe and beyond”.

A couple of eggs at Wikipedia

Despite the fact that “Wikipedia” is regularly criticized, her information is extremely useful and convenient for a quick search of encyclopaedic data. For all its “scientism” this site also has “Easter egg”. It is just a blank page that says that this page has been intentionally left blank. Why? Hard to say, maybe it’s a subtle humor scholars.

And here’s another secret in Wikipedia, cover that’s never been tried — in the article about the Easter egg. After all, this is an encyclopedic article, and if anyone is interested in the phenomenon of “Easter eggs”, you need literally on your toes to show that it is, rejecting all mystery. So if you navigate to this page directly it will find an Easter egg hidden in the published image with the animals. If you hover the mouse on the hedgehog, a message will appear “You won’t believe, but I’m sitting on a huge basket of eggs”. And if the hedgehog click, you can see a picture of these eggs.

Superman from the Omsk region

Often Easter eggs the developers intentionally put in your website, then the “secret” to tell about the hiding place in social networks and thus advertise your project. Don’t know, chased the developers of the card of the Omsk region the goal, but the joke was pretty funny. On the page of this project, hid the true Superman that you can call, if you repeatedly click on the letter “O” in the word “Omsk” on an interactive map. After that the page will arrive local Superman with the words “tremble! Evil! I’m always on guard for the forces of good! And I also have a blue suit!”. And will fly away.

Weather jokes on “Yandex”

Employees of the company “Yandex” joke often. Once on the first of April, the domestic search engine programmers were shown funny the weather machine — “one-armed bandit” in Flash. The user can repeatedly run this virtual machine called “random Weather”, pulling the lever, then on the screen appeared information about weather in the near future and ironic comments regarding perseverance. Ended this game is the fact that the handle on the slot machine was simply broken with the message “Finished! The handle broke”.

The joke was so impressed visitors that it was decided to leave on the page “Yandex weather” and she is there to this day.


The secrets hidden in software and devices, it is not customary to disclose. What it there will be secret messages, if they become known to everyone? Moreover, employers often do not encourage such fun. They are motivated by the fact that people need to focus on your job and not look for the Ghost caches in applications. And yet opponents of the “Easter eggs “put in the reproach that hidden opportunities can be a software vulnerability, or even be used against users’ privacy. Maybe “fighters secrets” I am afraid that in addition to caches of harmless images and messages the most curious researchers will be able to detect something else?

In any case, the secrets nice to accidentally discover. Such an event is akin to every time found put that you suddenly came across. Most importantly, do not be greedy, found — share with others.

Source: 3dnews.ru

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